Stabilisation of Mineral Residues by Phosphate Treatment

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Removal of aqueous lead ions by hydroxyapatites: equilibria and kinetic processes.

Baillez Sandrinea, Nzihou Ange a, Bernache-AssolantDidierb, Champion Eric cand Sharrock Patrickd

aLaboratoire de Génie des Procédés des Solides Divisés, UMR 2392, Ecole des Mines
d’Albi-Carmaux, Campus Jarlard, Route de Teillet, 81 013 Albi CT Cedex 09, France

bEcole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de St Etienne, 158 cours Fauriel, 42023, St Etienne Cedex2

c SPCTS-Faculté des Sciences, Université de Limoges, 123 Ave. A. Thomas, 87060, Limoges Cedex

dIUT Castres, Université Paul Sabatier
Avenue Georges Pompidou, BP 258, 81 104 Castres Cedex, France


The capacity of hydroxyapatite (HAp) to remove lead from aqueous solution was investigated under different conditions namely initial metal ion concentration and reaction time. The sorption of lead from solutions containing initial concentrations from 0 to 8000mg/L was investigated was studied for three different Hap powders. Soluble Pb and Ca monitoring during the experiment allows characterizing the mechanism of lead uptake. Dissolution of calcium is followed by the formation of a solid solution, PbxCa10-x(PO4)6(OH)2, with a Ca/P ratio decreasing continuously.

Langmuir-Freundlich classical adsorption isotherms modeled adsorption data. The adsorption capacities calculated from this equation vary from 330 to 450mg Pb/g HAp for the different solids. Modeling of the sorption process allows to determine theoretical saturation times and residual lead concentrations at equilibrium.

Keywords: Hydroxyapatite, Lead, Adsorption
1. Introduction.

Calcium hydroxyapatite (Hap), Ca10(PO4)6(OH)2, is used for the removal of heavy metals from contaminated soils, wastewater and fly ashes (Chen, 1997; Laperche, 1996; Ma, 1993,1994; Mavropoulos, 2002; Nzihou, 2002; Takeuchi, 1990.) Among heavy metals, lead was particularly studied with an aim to establish the mechanisms of lead capture by Hap. An ion exchange mechanism was proposed by Takeuchi (1990) in which lead ions are first adsorbed on the Hap surface and substitution with Ca occurs as described by the following equation:


The mass balance of lead is given by:


where m is the weight of HAp (g), q the amount of lead removed by unit of weight of HAp (mg Pb/g HAp), V the volume of lead solution (l), C0 the initial lead concentration of solution (mg Pb/l) and C the concentration of lead at the time t of solution (mg Pb/l). After a long time, C and q will reach equilibrium value Ce and qe. As the exchange reaction between Pb2+ and Ca2+ described by equation (1) is very fast and seems to take place at the surface of Hap particles, the following rate equation can be given:


The initial conditions and equilibrium relation can be written as:

and at , and qe = constant (4)


The interaction of Hap with heavy metals may form relatively insoluble metal phosphates and/or result in the sorption of heavy metal on Hap, thus significantly reducing aqueous metal concentrations.The study of the equilibrium will help to determine the adsorption capacity of the hydroxyapatite powders used. This capacity is an important parameter to design a pilot plant which could be used for wastewater treatment.

Adsorption isotherms are used to determine the affinity of Hap for lead. The lead concentration at equilibrium Ce helps to calculate the amount of lead qe removed by unit weight of Hap at the end of the experiment. This quantity is defined as follows:


An isotherm model such as the Freundlich-Langmuir model is generally used to describe the sorption of heavy metals by natural adsorbents (Ruthven, 1984; Rengaraj, 2001, 2002)


where Q0 is lead solid concentration in equilibrium with the initial liquid concentration (mg Pb2+/g HA), kFL, is related to the energy of adsorption (mg Pb2+/g HAp), Ce, the equilibrium concentration of lead (mg/l)

2. Materials and methods.

Two series of experimental measurements were carried out: 1-Batch sorption measurements to determine kinetic parameters and the effect of pH on lead removal and 2-Adsorption measurements to define the adsorption efficiency of Hap for lead. All experiments were carried out with three different HAps synthesized at room temperature by precipitation from solution. The solids obtained were dried at 105°C during one day and ground to obtain monomodal powders (Baillez, 2003).

X-ray powder diffraction measurements (XRD), were carried out with CuK radiation from 20 to 50°(Siemens D5000). The phases present were determined by comparing the patterns with JCPDS standards. The XRD pattern of powder calcined at 1000°C during 15 hours shows that HAp1 is composed of hydroxyaptite and tricalcium phosphate (TCP) with a Ca/P ratio of 1.6004. HAp2 is a stoichiometric Hap, Ca10(PO4)6(OH)2 with a Ca/P ratio of 1.6669. HAp3 is composed of hydroxyapatite and lime (CaO) with a Ca/P ratio of 1.7275. The specific surface area of the particles was determined by nitrogen adsorption using a BET method (MICROMERETICS Gemini Vacprep 061). The bulk density of the powder was measured by helium pycnometry (MICROMERETICS Accupyc 1330). The powder particles size distribution was determined with a MALVERN laser mastersizer Hydro 2000. The particles were placed in an ethanol suspension shaken by ultrasound. This characterization of the three Hap powders gave the following results (table 1).

Aqueous solutions containing Pb2+ ions of concentration (0, 1000, 2000, 3000, 5000, 6000 and 8000 mg/l) were prepared from lead nitrate. 4 g of hydroxyapatite were taken into a stirred-tank reactor containing 400 ml of the prepared solution (Error: Reference source not found).The stirring speed of the agitator was 400 rpm. The temperature of the suspension was

Table 1. Hydroxyapatite properties.




Ca/P molar ratio




Specific surface area (m²/g)




Bulk density (g/cm3)




d(0.5) (µm)




maintained at 25°C. The initial pH of the suspension varied from 3 to 5 depending on the concentration of lead in the solution. The lead and calcium concentrations in the solution during the run were determined by an atomic absorption photometer (VARIAN Spectra AA 400). After 24 hours of reaction, the sample was filtered and dried at 105°C during 2 hours.

3. Results and discussion.

The evolution of lead concentrations during the batch sorption experiment for Hap2 is presented in 1. The curves show a swift decrease of lead concentration during the first minutes. The final concentration corresponds to the equilibrium or to the entire consumption of lead.

Figure 1. Batch sorption kinetic measurements for HAp2.

Figure 2. Effect of Pb sorption on the pH of the solution for HAp2.

Both the Pb2+ concentration evolutions and the pH decreases observed in Figure 1 and 2 for time periods less than 10 minutes can be explained by surface complexation. In fact, Mavropoulos (2002) postulated that surface sites of hydroxylapatite in neutral water are transformed into sites, which leads to proton leaching and consequently explains the pH decrease and calcium dissolution observed in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Ca2+ released into the solution for HAp2.

Figure 4 establishes the relation between Pb2+ uptake and Ca2+ release. The slope of this curve is equal to unity suggesting that the reaction mechanism corresponds to equimolar exchange of lead and calcium yielding where x can vary from 0 to 10 depending on the reaction time and experimental conditions.

Figure 4. Moles of Ca2+ released into the solution as function of

moles of Pb2+ removed from the solution.

Similar results were obtained with HAp1 and HAp3. The proposed mechanism for lead removal by Hap comprises two steps: firstly, rapid surface complexation of the lead on the sites of the Hap which causes the decrease of the pH, secondly, partial dissolution of calcium followed by the precipitation of an apatite with formula:.

Figure 5. Adsorption isotherms for the three hydroxyapatites.

Figure 5 gives the adsorption isotherms for the three Haps. For Ce above 500 mg/l, the amount of sorbed lead, qe, does not increase significantly. This plateau corresponds to the saturation of the Hap surface. They were modeled with the Langmuir-Freundlich equation (7). Table 2 lists the values of the resulting parameters.

Table 2. Langmuir-Freundlich parameters.
















The results confirm the large affinity of lead for all the Haps studied. HAp1 and HAp2 have same specific surface areas, but HAp1 has the higher adsorption capacity. As HAp1 is a deficient Hap (Ca/P<1,67), the cation deficiency can be compensated by lead ions in order to obtain a stoichiometric apatite (i.e. (Ca+Pb)/P = 1,67). The calculated theoretical formulas of the solid phosphates formed have the molar ratios presented in table 3.

Table 3. hydroxyapatite formula before and after lead removal.

at the beginning

at the end




















The Ca/P molar ratios of the Haps at the end of the experiments are higher than 1.67.

Based on the experimental concentration-decay curves, the mass balance was solved using a Runge-Kutta Telhberg equation (Bird et al., 1960), assuming diffusion in the macropores is rate determining. The tortuosity, of the adsorbent was taken equal to 4 referring to other natural adsorbent tortuosities varying from 2 to 6 (Ruthven, 1984). With the porosity of the Hap particles (0.49), q the adsorbate quantity per gram of Hap, the effective diffusivity, is related to the molecular diffusivity DM by the relation :


The effective diffusivity Def is 2.6 10-8 m/s, assigning a value of DM = 2.6 10-7 m/s.

Table 4.Comparison between experimental and model results.





















We observe according to the saturation time ()(s) and residual lead ()(gPb/M3) that adsorption takes a very long time before attaining saturation with extremely low values of residual lead concentrations in water. The results show that even after a few hours, when the adsorption kinetics become very slow, the sorption capacity remains very high. The modeling of the reaction kinetics shows that after 24 hours (time limit of our experiments) the reaction is not finished but is in fact very slow. So, with longer contact times, higher sorption capacity could be obtained. This leads to interesting prospects for the use of hydroxylapatites in water purification.


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